10 Reasons Why Twitter Is Sliced Bread for Introverts Like Me


It seems like you have to be an extrovert to enjoy using Twitter. After all, you’re engaging with the world – expressing your thoughts, connecting and sharing, chatting, and generally being an exuberant online participant – all in 140 characters or less. If you are on Twitter, you are out there. Introverts are generally dismissed as lurkers with nothing much to say.

But this is not the case.

I am deeply introverted, yet I love Twitter.

Here’s why:

  1. When I share on Twitter, I generally have only a few close friends in mind. Most often, though, it is actually just a way for me to archive the things I have enjoyed reading. 80% of the time it’s like I’m talking to the only person in the world who makes sense to me: me.
  2. I have hundreds of followers, but I only actively engage with a few of them. Introverts do not make friends easily, but Twitter gives me better odds at finding more people to form meaningful friendships with.
  3. I get to choose who I engage with on Twitter. Introverts dislike noise. If my followers get too loud, I can ignore them, block them or delete them off my lists… (Sometimes I wish I could do the same in real life.)
  4. When I tweet, I get to plan what I have to say carefully, revise if needed and delete if I suddenly realise I don’t like what I have just said. (I have probably deleted three tweets for every one I have kept.) I love being able to do this.
  5. Introverts are not antisocial isolationists. We like to be involved and we like people. Just not in heavy doses. On Twitter I can engage when I want to, or I can stay away for weeks without any real consequences.
  6. I get to listen in without feeling compelled to take part. Whether it is lurking during a chat or following a hashtag, I can feel part of things without anyone expecting anything of me.
  7. I get to arrange friends into lists. Hence, I can group those who are active and busy into groups, and those who are more reflective into others. This allows me to read and engage with the groups of people I want to, when I want to. It’s also a way of organizing the chaos.
  8. I get to express myself slowly, deliberately and carefully. Conversations with me often take a few days, because I respond when I feel up to it – there’s no expectant face opposite me demanding an immediate reply.
  9. On Twitter, I get listened to, without having to shout to make myself heard. People realise that I have something to say, and my tweets speak louder and more clearly than I do.
  10. I get to be the person I am in my head when I tweet. When I look back at the tweets I’ve sent into the world, I am the kind of person I’ve always wanted to be. It’s a more accurate reflection of who I think I am. This has definitely filtered through into my ‘analogue life’ – I am far more careful with the messages I send out in the real world, and am slowly becoming the person I am on Twitter, in person.

 

I feel like there are more and more introverts out there. Perhaps it is just that Twitter and other social media have given us a voice and the confidence to peer out from inside our shells. Perhaps it is because other introverts no longer feel the need to play the extrovert. Perhaps it is a sign of things to come: a more reflective, mindful, quieter and more sincere society comprised of people who do far less shouting and far more listening.

But maybe I am going too far.

Peace

Sean

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About Sean Hampton-Cole

Fascinated by thinking & why it goes wrong➫ (Un)teacher ➫iPadologist ➫Humanist ➫Stirrer ➫Edupunk ➫Synthesist ➫Introvert ➫Blogger ➫Null Hypothesist.
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6 Responses to 10 Reasons Why Twitter Is Sliced Bread for Introverts Like Me

  1. Michele says:

    Interesting. I am very much an introvert but I’ve never gotten into using Twitter. I like blogging best and I just have WordPress automatically copy my posts to Twitter for me, in case someone wants to follow me via Twitter instead of via WordPress.

  2. I’m an ambivert… extreme extrovert AND extreme introvert, all at the same time.

    I find it very easy to be in the spotlight, and I find it very easy to talk to people. But I find it even easier to spend most of my time alone. As I get older, the introvert in me seems to be getting stronger. I think I can classify myself as ‘tending towards being a hermit’.

    For me, Twitter is very much what you’ve described… a way of connecting without the need to be ‘on show’. While my Twitter persona is certainly more sardonic and cynical than my real-life persona, I find that ‘Twitter-Roy’ is a more eloquent version of me. (To anyone interested in sardonic cynical humour, I’m @RoyBlumenthal on Twitter.)

    I’ve always found that I’m more eloquent in writing than in spoken word. For example, I can type very quickly, but I cannot dictate.

    My theory about Twitter is that it’s an outsourcing of a very specific piece of the communication task… phatic communication.

    Phatic communication is the part where ‘the channel’ is demonstrated to be ‘active’. Think of it as the static click of the walkie talkie… when I press the talk button, you hear a click, and know that I’m about to talk. In an everyday conversation, the phatic component of a chat would be my nodding to show you that I’m continuing to listen to you.

    Phatic communication is non-content. In other words, it doesn’t contain any decipherable message beyond ‘I’m listening, I’m receiving your message, this channel is active’.

    On Twitter, I’m ‘connected’ to people phatically ALL THE TIME. I don’t HAVE TO nod… my existence in your Twitter stream IS the nod. You don’t have to nod either. Your existence in my stream IS the phatic confirmation that we’re in a conversation.

    This is why it makes perfect communication-sense for me to fire off a tweet at 1.30am, NOT EXPECTING a reply. The ‘@’ sign in front of your Twitter-handle is the phatic reassurance that our channel is active, and that you ‘hear me’.

    Where this performs magic for introverts is that the ‘need’ for a reply becomes unnecessary (on one end of the spectrum), or time-delayed (on the other end of that spectrum). The phatic connection DOES THE JOB.

    If someone in real life says something to you, you’re compelled by the codes of communication to actually show (using the phatic channel) that you’re receiving their message. If you DON’T do this, they aren’t sure you’re ‘present’, and end up having to ‘check’ the phatic channel by saying something like, ‘Do you get what I’m saying?’, or by clicking their fingers and testing if you’re awake, or by attempting eye contact.

    On Twitter, the @-sign does all of that work. And it does it asynchronously, non-linearly, and mutually. I know we’re connected BECAUSE we’re connected.

    • Twitter is different for me depending on the time of day, night, week or weekend. Sometimes it is nice to have mindless banter with folk I have never met outside of Twitterland, at others I can hop on my soapbox and rant or chat about any topic that has ignited my passion at that particular moment.

      I don’t know whether I am introvert or extrovert. I think I am a chameleon. When I get bored I unfollow a few folk, there are always plenty more to whet my insatiable appetite for learning and experiencing.

      It is not like a dinner party where if you don’t like the company you are stuck until it is time to leave.

      • Thanks for the comment, Pat. You are most certainly among those few I consider to be a friend! You comments are always so insightful and honest.. and greatly appreciated!

    • Ambivert… love it! Dude, when you’re done talking (in person, and in your greatly appreciated comments on this blog) I honestly never feel I can add anything more – you say it all so well! Thanks for your support and friendship.

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